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93: Essentialism

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This is basically just a review of a book that I re-read for the second time. Grayson (on our house flipping team) suggested this book to me, and it’s really been helping me deal with feeling overwhelmed with everything.

Sometimes you read a book at one point in your life, but don’t get all of the advice and actionable material. This book is called “Essentialism” by Greg Mckeown, and it’s just great. There are so many visual representations of how you get overwhelmed. The circle with all of the short arrows are definitely where I was at. Then, there’s another circle with a single long arrow that shows where the most essential things are, and should be going. This is where we should all be, and this is where I want to take Flip Pilot and LeadPropeller.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what’s the most essential part the business, taking time to look at the big picture, to get a clear idea of what we really should be doing. What’s most important to us so that we can get rid of those little arrows. So many of us as real estate investors can tend to feel really overwhelming. If you burn yourself out, you’re not going to be running a successful business.

One story in this book is about journalism, but can definitely be applied to other aspects. When Greg was in a journalism class, the professor said to come up with a lead for a story about faculty meetings. Every student was coming up with stories about the different departments, and the goals from those meetings, and the overall impact on the university. The lead that the students didn’t take into account was that there wouldn’t be class on this day. The important take away was thinking about the audience’s point of view. The people reading this journal were the students – they didn’t care what the meetings were going to be about. The students reading just cared about if there was going to be class or not. So, thinking about things from the audience’s point of view helped to shape the best possible story about a subject that the students would have otherwise not cared about.

Seeing the bigger picture and coming up with a strategy that’s intentional is the best thing you can do for your business. The trade off should never be a detriment to your business. If you’re giving something up to do something else, make sure that something else is worth it.

Another clear point in this book is taking time to play. That’s so true. If you’re not taking time for yourself, then you’re going to burn out and give up. If you keep running forward, you’ll die. Taking time for yourself will help you get more creative in your real estate investing business.

I take my time on Sunday to plan my week, but I always start with scheduling the fun things to do with my family. Then, when I’ve put time aside for that, I add in the work stuff. If you’re not giving yourself time to have fun, you’re not going to be running a successful real estate investing business. Do it to get recharged.

If you guys haven’t read this book, do. It’s a great game changer for running the best business possible. Knowing what’s important and what’s not is difficult, but essential (hah, get it?). It’s like cleaning out your closet. If you see a shirt and think “I don’t wear this, but I might”, you end up keeping all of the close instead of clearing things out.

If something you need to make essential isn’t a clear “yes”, then it’s a “no”. Think about it like a scale of 1 – 10. If it’s not a 10, then it has to go. Plane and simple. That will keep you on the right track that your real estate investing business needs.

You can get this book in the link below! I highly recommend it if you need help with finding out what’s essential and what’s not. And don’t forget to join the Flip Pilot group on Facebook to network with other active real estate investors who have a 30k foot view of their business!

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Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

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Danny Johnson: Hey, welcome back to the Flipping Junkie podcast. I’ve got a great episode for you today. It’s going to be a real quick one. It’s basically a review of a book that I just re-read for the second time after a suggestion from Grayson that works on our house flipping team. Where I was getting a little bit overwhelmed with all the different kind of things that we’ve got going on with the house flipping business and the software business, Lead Propeller, the services for PPC and Facebook Ads and all that kind of stuff that we’re doing. And then our new software product, the new CRM system that we’re going to be launching hopefully by the very end of this year. So we got a lot going on and I was getting a little bit stressed out there and he suggested, “Hey, why don’t you read Essentialism?” I said, “Man, I’ve got that book and I read it. I need to re-read it.” Because sometimes you read a book at a certain point in your life and you get some information about it out of the book but maybe it’s not the exact right time in your life where you can implement it and make use of it so you sort of forget it because you didn’t take action on it and worked through it.

So when I was re-reading it, this time I was getting a lot more out of it because it was like a perfect time to put it into action and really work through some of the things in the book. Now, the book is called Essentialism and that’s by Greg McKeown. That’s M-C-K-E-O-W-N. Essentialism by Greg McKeown. And you know what I love is when you first open up that book and get into it, one of the pages at the beginning has a drawing. On the left side is a circle with “energy” written in the middle of it and it’s got a bunch of arrows coming off of it all around that circle, and all those arrows are really short. That’s like what we’re trying to do every day is we’re doing all these things and trying to finish all this stuff like we’re saying yes to everything and we’re going to do everything.

Then next to that is another circle with energy in it and then one arrow coming off of it at the top that’s really long. Basically it’s talking about being an essentialist and making those tradeoffs and saying no to certain things and really figuring out all the time, and this needs to happen all the time. Not something you do once and then a month later you’re back to where you were. You’ve got to stay on top of it and make it as a habit of deciding what’s really, really, really important. I love it because it fits into this whole flip pilot thing that we’ve been thinking a lot about and considering ourselves as basically that 30,000-foot view of our flipping business where we’re looking at the big picture. Not every little thing that we’re doing, every little tiny detail, it’s like take a step back, forget all that for the moment and really thinking about what should we be doing. Not all the million things we’re doing but what really should we be doing that makes maybe a lot of those little things irrelevant, what’s most important. And when you do that, you could focus on a lot fewer arrows that zap your energy and you get reward and you get that motivation of really working and making progress and not feeling overwhelmed. I think so many of us as real estate investors feel so overwhelmed especially when you’re still running the business yourself and wearing all the hats. You’re doing the marketing, you’re doing the acquisitions, you’re managing the rehabs and selling the properties. It’s not very sustainable for very long and even if you are sustaining it, I’m sure you’re not super happy about everything that you’re having to do.

So that book is an amazing book. I highly recommend that you get it. And he told one story in there that I really liked, it was about journalism and how he was in this journalism class. The professor told the students, “Okay, I want you guys to come up with a lead for the story.” And what is, is the faculty are going to have on Thursday or something like that, they’re going to have meetings all day long where they need doing planning and all that kind of stuff. I think he went through the different departments and what the meetings that they were going to have all day long were and had the students figure out what the lead to that story was for that journalism class. So the students were trying to come up with stories about how the physics department is going to meet and discuss this to make it a better physics whatever. You know what I mean? Like what they’re going to do and how it’s going to benefit the university or something like that. What it was, was what none of the students realized was that the lead was the fact that there wasn’t going to be school on Thursday. And so, it’s like considering like seeing, taking in the information and then figuring out what’s really essential, what’s really important, what the lead to the story was because the audience for the newspaper, whatever it was, was the students. What matters most to the students and what matters most was that they were going to have the day off. They didn’t care that the faculty were going to be doing these things. That wasn’t the story for them. The story was that they had a call come in.

But anyway, so seeing the bigger picture and taking inventory of all the things that you feel are important and coming up with that strategy, being intentional about where you’re going as a person, as a company, and being intentional about what you’re taking on, what you’re saying yes to and what the tradeoffs are.

So another thing that he had talked about in that book was needing time to play and this has been a big thing for me lately with all the things that we’ve had going on, is making sure that we’re having fun, making sure that we’re including times in our lives where we’re not just on the treadmill and working and trying to advance and make progress all the time. Because it’s important because it really brings out that creativity in us when we have that time away from what we’re always focusing on. And what I’ve been doing that’s really helped with that is on Sundays I’ll plan my week and the first thing that I do in my planner when I’m planning my week on Sundays is I will put down fun things for me and my family, my wife and the kids and just me for myself to do, and I plan those times throughout the week. And then I come in with my work stuff. I come in and I put down the plan of the things I’m going to do during the week to get my work accomplished. That way, the fun parts and the good parts about life are not the priority. They don’t get shoved aside. You’re making sure that you’re putting the time in for that first and then you put in the work and progress.

I’m telling you that’s really helpful and it’s really awesome and I never was able to keep that up. When I was planning on Sundays, I would plan for maybe a month or two and then I’d stop doing it, I would just not do it. But now that I’m planning in and I’m allotting time, allocating time to have fun and do those things, I make sure that I do it. I’ve been doing it for a while now and it’s really worked out great. So I recommend that if you’re not planning your weeks, do that and if you had trouble struggling with doing that before, plan and allocate time for the fun things, the things that you enjoy that recharge you that really excite you in life and do those and plan those before you put the work and plan into place for the week.

Let me see what else in the book was really helpful. So, we’re making tradeoffs all the time, right? So if we are looking at the big picture and we figure out what’s important and what’s not, sometimes that decision is not so easy. It’s easy to say, right? “Well, we’re going to say what’s important and we’ll figure it out.” But how do you do that? The analogy I like that he used was when you go through your clothes to get rid of clothes. I don’t know about you but the description of what I always do, is like “Oh, this shirt, I might wear this.” I kind of like it, I forgot I had it. I might wear it and I’m going to leave it there. It sucks because I’m not doing very well and I end up leaving most of the clothes. And then guess what, I never wear them and I still don’t wear them. So he said when you’re making these decisions on what the trade-off is going to be, you give it sort of a rating system and basically if it’s not a 9 or a 10, so if it’s not a definite yes, it’s a no. There’s no maybe. When you do this, you have to say “Is this a definite yes?” Because if it’s not a definite yes, there’s no maybe, there’s no between, it’s a no. So with the example of the clothes, like those shirts, I would think, “I like it, I haven’t seen it. I didn’t know and I’ll probably wear it.” See, I said probably. It’s not a definite yes. I don’t love it, I don’t wear it all the time. It’s got to go.

So you do that and I think it’s a great way to look at that so you don’t end up bogging yourself down with all these different classifications and trying to figure out, “Well, maybe…” You just have to make that tough commitment to just get rid of it and you’re going to feel better about it because you’re focusing your energy and your plan so that you can be more intentional. It’s a lot easier when you’re able to do that. So part of that is getting over that fear of missing out and I think a lot of us say yes to things that we don’t give a lot of thought too first. We don’t consider what we’re not going to be able to do because we said yes to this other thing. Or we see other investors doing something and they’re having success with it. And immediately we say, “Well, okay, we got to do that. What’s the plan? We got to do this too,” without considering what we’ve already been working towards and looking at the bigger picture and deciding whether that’s a really smart thing to do and what are you going to not be able to do because you decided to do that and try to have the same success with it. So you got to get over that fear of missing out and realize that you got to take a step back. Look at that 30,000-foot view. Be a flip pilot and really control where you’re going in your destiny and making sure that each day is going to be as productive as possible because you have the energy circle and you’ve got one or just a couple of arrows coming off of it that can go far and then see the progress and not just burn you out and at the end of the day come home feeling like you didn’t accomplish much as you wanted.

Another big point that he had mentioned that I really liked as well, and it’s something that Jim Rohn, if you’ve listened to the podcast or read Flipping Junkie blog very long, you know that I’m a big fan of Jim Rohn and the business philosopher. He had said something that stuck with me about when you’re on the way to work, be on the way to work. Don’t be thinking about the work that you’ve got to do when you’re there. When you’re at home, be at home. Don’t be thinking about work. When you’re at work, think about work. So be where you’re at basically and that’s easier said than done but I think it’s something that Greg mentioned in Essentialism and I think it’s a good point because a lot of times we’re spinning our wheels getting stressed out about things when we’re not at a position where we’re actually going to make a decision or benefit from all that thought. And so if we can live better lives by being where we’re at, when we’re at home, we’re at home. It’s not time to be thinking about all this stuff. Save that for when you get to the office so that you’re recharged and it doesn’t feel like one blended time all the way through the week in your entire life where you didn’t have these times of recharge and you’ll find that you do a lot better and you actually make a lot more progress. And it’s that fear of missing out again. If I’m not thinking about it, I’m not going to get ahead. But if you’re not able, if you’re not working and you’re not doing something with what you’re thinking about, that’s wasted energy and wasted thought and again, you’re back to the little arrows off of the circle that are small because they’re not making much progress.

And so when you’re overwhelmed like I was a little bit over the last couple of months and then Grayson recommended I read Essentialism again, what you find that you’ll do and what he recommends in the book, is you write out all of the things that you’re doing. What I did was wrote out everything that I was doing and then all of the things I knew I should be doing like from that 30,000-foot view so that I can really make the decisions of what needs to go, what needs to be delegated to somebody else, what do I enjoy doing. And what do I realistically have time for? And is some of this a part of something that really doesn’t matter that much where I’ve done all this stuff for so long without making the tradeoffs, where do I need to make the tradeoffs now to make sure that I’m going to make a difference and I’m going to make an impact. And what’s most important to me, what’s the lead, what’s the real story from the journalism story. And that’s helping all of you guys out there. It’s the things that we can do to help all of you guys out there have success and find that freedom of time and of money so that you can do the things that you want to do with the people that you love and live the life that you want to live.

So the things that I want to focus on are those things that are going to help you guys the most and so that’s a part of me talking about essentialism, what I’ve been struggling with and what I’ve been working through and using it to help you also do the same thing if you have the same struggles or find that you’re not making the progress that you want to make or at the end of the day you’re not feeling as motivated or as successful as you want to be. So hopefully that helps. Go out and get the book. You can get it at Amazon. But get the book, read it, but make use of it. Don’t just read and say, “Oh, that’s cool,” and then set it aside and start reading the next book. Make a plan and stick to it and really make those tough decisions, make those trade-offs without the fear of missing out.

So, I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you would, if you really enjoyed it, I really appreciate if you guys head over to iTunes and leave a rating and review for the Flipping Junkie podcast. It really helps us out to get the word out to more people and help more people. If you haven’t joined the Flip Pilot Facebook Group, head over to, get your invitation to that private group or you can search for Flip Pilot on Facebook and join that. We’ve got a lot of great discussions going on in there. Everybody is pretty active and talking about having that 30,000-foot view of your business. So, have a great week and we’ll talk to you next time!


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